Nepal Engineering College is the first Pokhara University affiliate engineering college and the second largest college after Pulchowk Engineering Campus. It has been driven by a not-for-profit motive.
Prof. Er. Hari Krishna Shrestha is the Principal at Nepal Engineering College. Currently, the college offers an array of undergraduate programs in Architecture, Civil Engineering, Civil and Rural Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Civil Engineering for Diploma holders. Similarly, it also offers graduate programs: M.Sc. in Construction Management, M.Sc. in Interdisciplinary Water Resources Management, M.Sc. in Natural Resources Management, M.Sc. in Transportation Engineering and Management. Prof. Shrestha has expressed his view with College Readers. Excerpts:
You commenced your service as a senior overseer, what fired your enthusiasm to enter into academic sphere?
I had a deep interest in teaching profession since the beginning of my service and used to teach mathematics to my colleagues. I also used to give training to my subordinates while in service. I went to the USA for my bachelor’s study where I performed well. The college used to assign toppers of third year to teach the juniors of second and first years. Since I demonstrated an excellent performance, I was entrusted to work as a research assistant teacher and was assigned to teach and assist in research. All these circumstances fired my enthusiasm further to take up teaching as a long-term profession. So, when I was returned to Nepal, I embraced teaching as a sincere career.
Nepal Engineering College is a top-notch college in the field of engineering despite lots of commotions on its way to the academic breakthroughs. To what extent, do you think that the college has met the objective of its establishment?
The college had to face myriads of hurdles and barriers during in the beginning of our journey. Not only this, but there was also much internal conflict regarding the ownership of the college. In fact, the college is a non-profitable institution, but some groups of people wanted to make it as a private company. Although it was in a critical condition, our efforts outweighed all those anomalies to change it as a pure social non- profitable organization to deliver quality education. Now, we are satisfied with the achievements despite such redundant maelstroms.
Nepal Engineering College is the only engineering college that is affiliated to Pokhara University as a non-profitable institution. It was given a permanent accreditation as a non-profitable engineering college by the Nepal Engineering Council.
It has managed to recruit experienced, highly qualified, and dedicated faculty of teachers. The college has rich physical infrastructures with sufficient equipment. It owns a resourceful library with recent references, books, journals, magazines etc. and a cutting-edge computer-lab. All items of equipment have been managed as per the requirements of the existing curricula which will certainly prepare students to acquire life-changing skills.
Needless to say, we transfer knowledge and skill through subject experts, enthusiastic teachers and researchers. Our focus is to produce such human resources that can respond to a global need. In addition, our supplementary classes allow needy students to obtain their desired grades in the examinations. In this regard, when we assess all our available resources for appealing teaching and learning activities, such as faculty mavens, physical infrastructures, equipment, lab and students’ academic upshots, we believe that we are successful in fulfilling the objective of college establishment.
You had assumed the responsibility as principal of this campus amid critical circumstances. What notable improvements have you made since your appointment?
We experienced a stand-offish atmosphere a few years ago due to various internal commotions. It had created hesitation in the mindset of both teaching and non-teaching staff and misperception in the mindset of students. Our teaching and learning activities were not conducted smoothly, and the available equipment items were made redundant due to the carelessness of the management and teachers. So, no sooner had I been appointed as principal than I, along with my colleagues, solved these problems in no time. We reinstated the teachers in their previous posts who had been laid off by the former management team. Besides, we properly managed the available equipment and purchased additional equipment accessories which were essential for completing the courses effectively. Currently, there is an amicable academic environment where dignity and accolades have the stratospheric niche among teaching and non-teaching staff. Similarly, the dilapidated infrastructures due to the destructive earthquakes have been reconstructed. Since we always believe in technological marvels, our teaching and learning activities are tech-friendly and research-oriented.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to adopt online classes again after reinstating physical classes. We are not sure about the pandemic that will disappear immediately. What are your plans to move ahead combating any unprecedented pandemic and epidemic threats and crises in the future?
During the first wave of the pandemic, we provided our building as an isolation center to the coronavirus patients as our social responsibility. We also conducted regular classes virtually. Now, we are conducting classes physically by adopting all safety measures. We have trained our teachers to teach via online platforms. So, if such pandemic breaks out in the future, we are fully capable of conducting the virtual classes.
What, do you think, are the strengths of engineering program of Pokhara University?
Pokhara University is a widely trusted institution for engineering education. The administrative and managerial teams are visionary and far-sighted. The University has set an example of conducting online exams fairly. In addition, even in normal circumstances, the University leaves no stones unturned to conduct scheduled exams and revises the curricula as per the demand of global market.
It is heard that there is an upward trend in the dropout rate of students in engineering education in Nepal. In your opinion, what could be the genesis of such anomaly, and what are the possible gateways to its long-term solution?
There could be several reasons of this anomaly, but the key reason is the model questions which the University should consider important and prepare the model questions as per the curriculum grids. The grid should be prepared first, and the allocation of unit-based weightage should be determined before preparing questions. The University should facilitate the teachers with regular training and familiarize them with the changing curricula and teaching mechanisms. Regular workshops on updated syllabi are direly required for all the teachers, and more importantly they are vital for new recruits.
What message would you like to convey to NEB graduates of Grade 12 as Principal of Nepal Engineering College?
First of all, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to all the graduates of ten-plus-two level. In addition, as principal of NEC, I convey my message to bachelor level aspirants to choose a faculty that excites them before confirming the college to pursue a higher degree. And their chosen institution should quench their thirst of knowledge and help them crystallize their dreams. If students cuddle engineering education as their field of interest and career building, NEC can be the best place for their appealing careers. Since Chagunarayan municipality has decided to administer NEC under its supervision and guidance, the college gives the assurance of stability and sustainability. We don’t compromise on quality deliverance. So, I assure all the career hopefuls that NEC will equip you with quality education and life-changing skills if you are determined to become an engineer in the days to come.